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Top Guatemala

Ipala Volcano, Crater Lake And Cueva De La Leona - Hiking Chiquimula - Guatemala

The scenery en route between Jalapa and Chiquimula, whether you take the back road-short cut via San Luis Jilotepeque or the longer route via Progresso and Agua Blanca, is just spectacular. The sun and heat is countered by the lush sub tropical mounds, which just seem to sprout up out of the valley bottom, and the pretty patchwork of cultivated fields. For some amazing views out across the plain you can hike up the Volcán de Ipala. It looks just like another big hill more than a volcano and subsequently it is not so easy to spot, but there is one large green road sign along the smooth black-top road between Agua Blanca and Ipala indicating a turn-off to a parking lot and where the trail up the mountain begins. It takes about an hour and a half to reach the summit via a somewhat steep and narrow path, passing cows being herded to and from their fields. It can be challenging trek but it is not dangerous. Before reaching the top there is a side path leading to the Cueva de la Leona, where legend has it a lioness and her cubs used to live, feeding on the white-tailed deer that still live here. Emerging from the trees at 1650 meters (5413 feet) above sea level you’ll find the beautiful crater lake about 3.5 kilometers (2 miles) in diameter and which takes a further hour to walk around. You can camp here but you would need to bring your own equipment and provisions as there are no stores or any real shelter - always check the weather forecast before pitching up as the rain and thunder storms can come in rather quickly here (the area is administered by CONAP, which charges at $1.50 entrance fee, and there is a visitors’ center and a basic lodge but these may not necessarily be open). To get here take a bus from Jutiapa or Progresso towards Ipala/Chiquimula and asked to be dropped off at the sign to the parking lot, or take a bus/taxi from Ipala.


near Ipala,

Chiquimula, Guatemala

Hiking Types:
Nature trail

Getting There

Travel Tips:

Make sure you off by early afternoon and that you start your decent well before it gets dark.

Price Description:

Relative price: Budget

Travel Skills: intermediate/somewhat difficult.

You Need to Bring:

Good walking shoes, sun screen, rain coat

Currencies accepted
US dollar, Guatemalan quetzal

By Joanne Sykes

Born and raised in Yorkshire, England, Jo is currently working as a freelance travel writer in Latin America. With degrees in...

23 Aug 2010

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